Tax debate over, Obama lands in Hawaii

Following a week of speculation about whether President Obama would be able to join his family in Hawaii for Christmas or would be stuck in Washington to resolve the payroll tax fight, Obama touched down in Hawaii early Friday evening with his dog, Bo.

White House pool reports suggest the president is in full vacation mode.

Obama ditched his suit in favor of a white checkered shirt, and shook hands and wished “Merry Christmas” to children outside of Air Force One before heading off to the vacation rental where his family awaited his arrival.

The first family dined on sushi at Morimoto Restaurant in Waikiki before heading back to their vacation rental at 10:44 p.m. — 3:44 a.m. on the East Coast — according to the reports.

Obama was in a tough spot after House Republicans revolted against a Senate-passed bill to extend the payroll tax cut. His family was already in Hawaii, and the president had spent weeks extolling Congress to stay in town to finish their work.

“We can all spend Christmas here together,” the president threatened.

But on Thursday, after House GOP leadership took a pummeling from the conservative establishment for botching the politics in the tax debate, Republicans capitulated and a deal was passed midday on Friday.

Obama was on a plane to Hawaii by 5:52 p.m., according to the pool reports.